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History

 

Journalism professors Michael Cheney, Todd Evans and John Lytle established KDRK (K-Drake) in 1982 with donated, second-hand equipment and bailing wire so Broadcasting Methods students could practice announcing and board operations.

The station possessed a collection of 33 and 45 records. It cassette-delayed sports play-by-play. The first studio was located in a corner of the Meredith Hall basement, currently the engineering room for TV studio control.

KDRK operated briefly (until campus contractors cut the audio line) as a carrier current service to Goodwin-Kirk residence hall as AM 790 KDRK, starting Oct. 16, 1984.

1984 also brought Drake’s first application for an FM license, but FCC regulations showed that there was no available frequency space in the Des Moines metro without resorting to complicated directional patterns.

Jewett Residence Hall’s Council approved a carrier current transmitter for their building in April 1985, but broadcasting faculty and students decided to forego the opportunity because the transmitter investment was too large to reach a small audience.

These events are representative of one of Drake radio’s largest problems: finding a way to reach scattered audiences.

In 1986 as part of an elevator installation project, Drake built a new KDRK studio inside what became the E-Media newsroom in the Meredith Hall basement. For several years, the musical format wandered between progressive rock and a free-for-all.

Students seek a “Voice Of Drake”

Because the School of Journalism and Mass Communication controlled KDRK and maintained the equipment, some students aspired to build a second campus radio station controlled by the Office of Student Life and budgeted by student fees.

A committee worked with student leadership to develop carrier current KVOD – The Voice Of Drake. But the cost would have been large and the benefit small.

The Drake Broadcasting System (DBS) brought new life to KDRK by changing its structure and taking on additional programming responsibilities.

Under the leadership of General Manager JoAnn Ball from 1988-1990, the station flourished, moving to the cable TV dial for broadcast on campus. KDRK adopted a progressive rock format, playing songs unavailable elsewhere on the radio dial. “Drake’s Campus Sound” was the station’s first positioning statement.

Music, newscasts and announcements were played from audio cart machines. Automation for hours not programmed by students consisted of a multi-CD player.

In the early 1990s, KDRK caught onto the alternative music craze.

With new bands like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarten and others, the station sounded much more contemporary. Events included a three-day Radio Marathon before the last day of the semester before finals week.

The station began positioning itself as KDRK Radio – Your Alternative Alternative and started a show The Underground on Friday nights.  Staffed by two students, The Underground flipped on a TV camera in the the studio and broadcast not only the music, but also a live video feed from the KDRK studios.

The ill-fated Variety format

As the 1990s progressed, KDRK lost its musical niche as “alternative” and many of the bands that provided a unique sound in the early part of the decade left the music scene.

In 1998, KDRK General Manager Matt Barr abandoned the alternative format in favor of a “variety” format, where any music was acceptable and disc jockeys programmed their own shows.

“The term alternative has lost all meaning,” Barr told the Times-Delphic student newspaper in a February 1998 interview. “In a college setting we have the ability to create a huge variety, and I’d like to take advantage of that.”

Sensing a change needed to occur, KDRK’s next General Manager, Jennifer Slesnick, revived the alternative rock format for two reasons, according to a February 1999 Times-Delphic interview.

“First, there was no consistency with the old format,” Slesnick said. “A regular station doesn’t jump from Mariah Carey to country in one song or even within a day. Second, listeners didn’t know what to expect. Now anyone can tune in and know what kind of music is going to be played at any time.”

During this time, Slesnick and KDRK Music Director Ryan Farmer championed a slow transition to playing music from a digital hard drive. An Arrakis Digilink IV was installed in the studio to begin an evolution away from CDs.

Perhaps the biggest change in the late 1990s, however, was the addition of sports broadcasting to the station.

With old equipment previously used for TV sports broadcasts, KDRK added men’s and women’s basketball broadcasts, as well as football broadcasts. Under the direction of new KDRK Sports Director Nate Zinnel, KDCS sports broadcasters left the studio for the first time in years, a sign of bigger things to come.

In Fall 1999, with sports broadcasting and an alternative rock format, KDRK attracted new workers. Slesnick, in her final year, hired Eric Grunzinger, a pharmacy student, to serve as the station’s Music Director. Although he wasn’t the typical J-major who had run KDRK before, he attempted to organize the station’s overflowing inventory of music.

She also recruited Tony Lorino and Molly Finn, first-year students, to host a new underground show on TV for Friday nights. The KDRK Jammin’ Dance Party featured disco songs and listener requests. Finn sang along and danced on chairs. It was an instant success, amassing about 250 calls per night for the two hour show.

Although the pieces weren’t all quite in place, the winds of change began to evolve in 2000. Zinnel investigated web broadcasting for the station, while Slesnick and Lorino worked with SJMC faculty again to investigate FM frequencies. The possibility for an FM frequency at Drake came in January 2000 when the FCC approved Low-Power FM service for underserved regions.

Zinnel, the new president of DBS radio, Lorino, the new general manager/program director, and Grunzinger, who remained music director, began investigating new possibilities for KDRK. A survey distributed in April 2000 yielded dramatic results: “alternative” music, as the station called it, was dead.  

Leave K-Dork for the puppies: This is Bulldog Radio!

As web broadcasting, FM broadcasting, and an image change loomed, Lorino proposed new call letters – both to avoid image confusion and future FCC licensing problems (as KDRK was already assigned). In May 2000, KDRK became KDCS Bulldog Radio – Drake’s Campus Sound.

Musically, the station programmed “Modern Adult Contemporary,” featuring artists like Alanis Morrisette, Matchbox Twenty and Sugar Ray.

Although it wasn’t a drastic shift from the alternative sound, the name “alternative” was dropped. Instead, the station positioned itself several ways during 2000-01, including Your Favorite Music, The Best Mix of Your Music and This Is Your Station, finally settling on The Most Music, The Best Music. 

Behind the scenes, Grunzinger was diagnosed with leukemia and took a leave of absence from Drake. Although he planned to return, he passed away in November 2001. Originally hired to temporarily replace Grunzinger as Music Director, Lorino hired Bryan Gay, who had planned to serve as Grunzinger’s assistant in Fall 2000.

On September 19, 2000 , KDCS signed on with a new image, a new attitude-and a new morning show. Lorino and newly-appointed KDCS News Director Laura Colaizy hosted mornings together Monday-Thursday from 8-9 a.m.

Before “Tony and Laura in the Morning” was a sports-talk show, “Breakfast with Bolger and Zinnel,” hosted by KDCS President Nate Zinnel and Assistant Sports Director Matt Bolger. With the music slowly evolving, Lorino and Gay took the show on the road to football tailgating, increasing the station’s visibility. Slowly, a new marketing department began to emerge-and so did better programming.

When Zinnel announced he would not return to Drake in Spring 2001, Lorino moved up again to serve as the DBS/KDCS President, and Gay took over as the station’s General Manager/Program Director.

During the Spring semester, KDCS teamed up with the Journalism Council to broadcast live from the inaugural Journalism Days in March 2001, and gave away a free stereo live on the air. First-year students Sara Goers and Joe Acker served as Music Directors.

During the summer of 2001, Lorino worked with Professor John Lytle and others to apply for Drake’s LPFM license. But conflicts with channel protection again sidetracked the application.

SJMC Engineer Brad Toussaint arranged for the station to begin live web streaming in September 2001. However, this first attempt was short lived when the recording industry instituted new music licensing procedures that would have cost Drake hundreds of dollars in copyright fees. Thus, Bulldog Radio streaming ended several short months later.

KDCS comes into its own in 2001-02

For the start of the 2001 school year, Lorino and Gay, along with Acker, handled the day-to-day operations of KDCS. Following the events of September 11, 2001 , KDCS News Director Jess Roberts covered news conferences and events around the campus live using sports broadcasting equipment. As Gay segued out of the station in October, Lorino and Acker, along with KDCS Marketing Director Adam Ghassemi, took the station on the road again for more fun activities, including a live broadcast before the G-Love & Special Sauce concert at the Olmsted Center . In February, the station teamed up with the public relations group, PRSSA, to host the “KDCS/PRSSA Makeout Marathon” on Valentine’s Day. The event paired up couples to see who would kiss the longest-and also earned the station an honorable mention award for Best Campus Program. Musically, the station began to ebb and flow into more top 40 music, including modern rock and rap.

Perhaps the largest event to that date in KDCS’ history was the Ja Rule concert in April 2002. Although the Student Activities Board needed a larger station to promote the event to the city, KDCS promoted Ja Rule’s arrival on campus, and set up the first off-campus live remote broadcast at Big Dog’s Bar & Grill. The station’s staff, including Ghassemi, Acker, Lorino, Roberts, Bolger, and Assistant Program Director J.D. Fox, handled the operations of the undertaking.

Ch-ch-ch-changes:

As Lorino moved on to work at the Des Moines Radio Group and Acker decided to concentrate on other areas, 2002-03 saw Eric Duffee take over as the station’s President, J.D. Fox as Program Director, Tim Ryder as Music Director, and Ghassemi staying on as Marketing and Sales Director. Although the station got off to a slow start, it took on more challenges and continued to develop. A new music scheduling system was implemented to ease programming music. And the station’s promotions went to a new level as well.

In January 2003, an orchestrated effort between KDCS, Student Senate, the Student Activities Board and local businesses, a promotion called “Dream Drake” asked students to come up with ideas for improving the campus, with a grand prize of $500.00 cash, pizza for a year, laundry service for a year, and more. KDCS and Senate awarded the prize to Drake junior Steve Mason, who compiled an idea for an eco-friendly residence hall. As the semester went on, the station continued promotions during Relays and other campus events.

Streaming Returns, and a New Home for KDCS

As fall 2003 approached, the 2003-04 staff realized the true need for another way to get KDCS out to the campus other than Campus Cable. The DBS Board came to the conclusion that they needed to look into the actual cost of paying appropriate fees to get KDCS back to the web for streaming.

After investigating the options, DBS President Scott Inukai found what it would take to get the signal back to the web. The decision was made to pay the required fees, and KDCS could once again be live to the world. On September 11, 2003, KDCS went back to the web, this time with a website of its very own.

During the summer of 2003, DBS Production Director Carl Sundermann saw the immediate need for a real website for the Drake Broadcasting System as a whole. Some attempts had been made in the past, but none really worked due to a lack of commitment from any one DBS member. In September 2003, Sundermann founded www.drakebroadcasting.com as the online home for the Drake Broadcasting System, and the new home for the KDCS web stream. The Drake Telemedia Center again provided service and technical support to DBS for the streaming audio using the QuickTime format.

Summer 2003 also saw the renovations of the first floor of Olmsted. KDCS Members we excited to see the new booth upon returning to class in August. It was more than anyone had anticipated, and DBS had not spent a dime. While the room itself came free of charge to DBS, the equipment needed for the room would not be free.

DBS President Scott Inukai and KDCS Program Director Matt Haeger investigated the cost of outfitting the new studio. The final bill was set to cost nearly $10,000, far more than DBS could afford or the Board of Student Communications could give for such a project. DBS needed a way to make some good money for this studio.

An idea for a Battle of the Bands competition was thrown around at a meeting, and suddenly a new KDCS sponsored event was born. This Battle of the Bands was such a success that it went on to win Outstanding Social Program of the Year. Held on the eve of Dead Day in December 2003, the event brought in a big chunk of change for KDCS’ new studio. A deal was worked out with SFAC for the remaining dollar amount. March 1, 2004 KDCS Olmsted went live to campus and the world.

A New Home, But Incomplete

KDCS had a new home. All of the equipment was purchased and installed using DBS funds. But one large piece was missing from the finished product. The studio console originally slated for donation from the SJMC turned out to be faulty, leaving KDCS without funds to purchase a new console. JMC professor Todd Evans donated a live sound mixing board so that KDCS could go on air on March 1, with the promise that DBS would budget for a new board in the coming year.

While newly elected President Carl Sundermann was researching possibilities for a new board, again Program Director Matt Haeger approached Sundermann with an idea for the new board. Des Moines Radio Group in downtown Des Moines was getting ready to replace all of studios with new digital consoles and they were willing to donate a board to the Drake Broadcasting System. Sundermann jumped on this idea.

In September of 2004, Des Moines Radio Group remodeled the 93.3 KIOA studio, and KDCS received the console, along with the custom built desk in which the console fits. The entire KDCS Staff was in awe at the size and functionality of the board. Now it would take time to get in installed.

A Slow Process

Receiving the board was a great addition to the KDCS, but also meant that the current studio design would need to be reconfigured for this new setup. Sundermann had the money in the DBS budget to put into the new studio because it was originally intended to go to the new console. And with that, the renovation began. Again.

Carl Sundermann and Scott Inukai, both seniors, performed the majority of the renovation themselves with guidance from Jeff Nichols in the Drake Telemedia Center . After taking KDCS Olmsted off air in October 2004, it took several months for the entire studio to be complete. January 17, 2005, KDCS Olmsted went back on the air. This time, with a professional audio console, microphone, and a touch screen monitor.

…and a frequency was born!

During the 2005-2006 school year, Drake University was granted a share in a low power FM frequency with Grand View University. The Dog would operate weekdays 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. and all day Saturday. Grand View would program the remaning time.

KDCS went through rigorous music testing in the fall semester to help determine format for the new FM station. An existing tower on Meredith Hall was adapted to hold the single-bay FM antenna.

A Management Board consisting of students Travis Monroe and Ashley Householder, SJMC faculty members Evans and Lytle, and Student Life representative Jan Wise was formed to oversee the station.

Throughout the Summer of 2006, Operations Manager Morgan Brigman worked with alumnus Tony Lorino to make sure “The Dog” was ready to be “Unleashed.”  

On Aug. 22, 2006, at 4 p.m. 94.1 The Dog signed on with at two-day stunt broadcast. 

The entire playlist consisted of songs about dogs (or with a dog name), including “Puppy Love” by Donny Osmond, “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night, “Hound Dog” by Elvis and “Bird Dog” by The Everly Brothers. KCCI News reported the event that evening.

On Aug. 24, The Dog signed on with its current format.